Councillors voted 4 - 3 in favour of the proposal, in spite of representations by local people and Parish Councillors.
Numerous objections have been made and concerns raised to this plan. Local residents are worried about the visual impact of a large building covering nearly two acres, waste paper and plastic being blown about the area, smells, traffic from potentially hundreds of lorries per day, congestion on the busy B1102 Fordham to Cambridge road and the even busier A142 Newmarket to Ely Road, loss of property values, the detrimental effect on the local environment and wildlife, particularly the impact on the National Trust Wicken Vision and the abundant reptile population, such as newts!
The station building that could be reopened and serve the villages of Fordham, Burwell, Isleham, Chippenham and surroundings. It contradicts current transport strategy to increase the number of journeys made by public transport.
Wicken Fen manager Chris Soans writes:
I am not familiar with Fordham station, but in general would welcome any improvements to the public transport network system, especially if it could be a link into the Vision area. Is it a possibility that it could be reopened? Our main objection to the plant is the potential serious effect it could have on contamination of the water table. It is also possible for it to have a negative effect on the environment through litter, we would obviously not want this and if it were to go ahead would assume all the necessary mitigation were in place to prevent spread of waste into the wider environment.
It is unlikely that the site can be connected to a sewer, as the nearest suitable point is 700 metres away and would need to cross private land. The existing drain past the site has limited capacity (Environment Agency).
Surface water discharge has poor infiltration rate at the site, so run off is likely to leave the site. It may flow into the underlying aquifer, eventually polluting the Wicken Vision area, or it could flow directly into New River, a few hundred metres away. This waterway runs through the heart of the Wicken Vision area. The National Trust have expresses concerns about this, that do not appear to have been addressed.
It is stated that there are no wildlife sites within one kilometre, but the Wicken Vision area is within this range. The Vision is an important wetland nature reserve project which is supported by the Council.
The Summary, item 5, states that the area has potential for Great Crested Newts.
Evidence of otters, a protected species have also been found in the area.
An initial evaluation only, was carried out on 15th April 2010.
A Fordham resident recalls that the site was bulldozed, on the 12th April.
The only existing pond nearby was not surveyed, as the surveyer did not have access to it. It is 210 metres from the site. It is stated that newts can travel up to 500 metres from their natal pond. This pond will be subject to windblown paper and plastic waste, that may come from the site, or from vehicles using the site. Other ditches in the area could provide a habitat for newts, so a proper survey needs to be carried out. The assessment argues simply that newts are unlikely to come to the site, without actually looking for them.
The conclusion of the Great Crested Newt Survey is:
5.1.1 'Access could not be gained to the balancing pond.'
5.2.1 'It is not known whether Great Crested Newts are present in the balancing pond which lies approx 210 metres to the north of the site.'
5.2.3 'Otter may be using some of the SUITABLE HABITAT on the site'.
My points of note to add are as follows (referring to the 26 page Agenda item Number 3)
1. The proposed building will create visible pollution on what is a flat and uninterrupted skyline. This additional land is an agricultrual greenfield site, surrounded by agricultural land. The skyline to the south east is already interrupted by the visible rooflines of the flat fabricated massive industrial units of "Turners" and "David Smith". These are visible on the skyline above the trees from the B1102 and also from the site (much more obvious in winter!). There is no similar building in the vicinity of Fordham Station to set a precedent for the proposed building. It will overwhelm the properties of all the established residents who have properties adjoining the site and also for Fordham Residents approaching using the B1102. Buildings of this magnitude should be sited with similar "industrial" businesses on established Industrial Sites.
NB the Ahern site in Thurrock is surrounded by similar businesses ie Donarban, Biffa, Veola not to mention a large number of vacant sites to let on a massive established industrial site. The Ahern site in Basildon is also sited on a "run down" large established Industrial Site nb the Basildon site also has large numbers of vacant buildings adjacent.
There is a downturn in the economy at the moment and a plentful supply of existing empty industrial units in the County to preclude the need to build a new building on a "part" virgin site.
The best use of the current brownfield site would be for a business that would make use of the access to the railway via the existing station or a business more in keeping with the locality ie horticulture, garden nursery.
Clause 8.27 on page 14 states that the design "should be in sympathy with the local landscape character and distinctiveness". This is not possible bearing in mind the residential properties that abut the development, but very easy to achieve in an existing industrial business site with similar large pre-fabricated metal boxes such as the ones visible on the skyline to the south-east.
2. Is there actually a "demonstrated need within Cambridgeshire and Peterborough for this major new waste development" (clause 8.4 line 2). It also states (line 4) that " In order that excess provision is not made within the plan area, which could result in unacceptable importation of waste". Has anybody seen any "Actual and forecast waste arisings?" and /or the "number type and capacity of other existing, allocated or committed sites in the locality"? Item 10 Recommendations on page 19 mentions the need for specific information on a "sustainable waste catchment area", which implies that it has not yet been provided to the Planners. Is this new development an opportunity for Ahern to established itself as a new competitor in the Cambridgeshire area with Veola and Donarbon?
What happened about the site liaison forum ? Is it not supposed to take place before planning permission can be granted viz Item 10.1 page 19. Also to reiterate the point raised at the meeting about point 5.6 on page 8 under the heading Representations:
"Comments from James Paice MP have also been forwarded and it is understood he is aware of the application and the significant local objection to it including Fordham Parish Council's objections. The MP has expressed a view that he entirely supports those objections as he believes it is far too large-scale a development for the immediate area to be able to accommodate."